But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. – Matthew 20:26-28 (ESV)
I have a friend named Neil who was very helpful early on in my travelling ministry. He is about 15 years older than I am and had been travelling for quite some time when we first met in 2002. After I had been on the road for a while, we would meet at our normal meeting spot, IHOP, and have breakfast. He looked at me briefly while he ate his breakfast and asked, “Have you been messed over by a church hosting you for an event yet?”
Not sure how to answer at first, I decided that honesty would be the best way forward so I said, “Yes. Several times.”
Neil looked at me and said, “Good.” He then continued to eat his self-made breakfast burrito.
Shocked, I asked him why. He told me that when we travel it is very tempting to start feeling entitled to many things that as servants of Jesus, we should not, and when we are messed over by a church whether it be with accomodations, financially, or whatever, that we can have deeper intimacy with Jesus.
We talked about the frustrations that come with traveling, but also the joys of seeing lives transformed by the Gospel, as well as being able to encourage pastors who are beat down or needing encouragement.
Over the years I have been taken advantage of in ministry, but if Jesus was betrayed and abandoned by His own crew, who do I think I am? In my less than stellar moments I am still tempted to feel entitled to certain comforts, and some ministers out there demand them. While I do not make many demands (except for those that would compromise me, my family, or ministry ethically), I do believe that it is okay to have healthy boundaries.
There has been great joy and freedom in asking for what I need, communicating clearly to the host, and then trusting God’s sovereignty. There are still times that thigns don’t go exactly how I would like, but I am constantly reminded of the example set by Jesus and humbled and encouraged to become more like Him, with the help of His Spirit.
So, for now, I don’t demand only green M&M’s or Pre-Lukewarm Water (Literally read that in a tech writer for someone). Instead, I strive to posture myself to serve more than I am serve. Jesus honors that.
Do any of you have any funny traveling stories? I have several. Perhaps I’ll share sometime. Leave a comment below to share.